How to Retrain a Cat to Use the Litter Box

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Assess whether your cat is having a hard time urinating.,
Evaluate whether your cat is having fecal issues.,
Improve physical access to the box.,
Talk to your veterinarian to rule out other medical problems.

If you see your cat straining while trying to urinate, or spending a long time trying with no result, take your cat to the vet immediately. Male cats in particular can develop urinary conditions where the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the penis) narrows or gets blocked. Typically small amounts of urine can pass until the cat is completely blocked and cannot urinate at all. This is a life threatening situation and needs immediate medical care. Blockages can also occur in the intestinal tract.

Some cats with a urinary infection or blockage spend a lot of time trying to urinate, licking their genitals, or crying at their owner., Fecal constipation does occur in cats and can lead to chronic issues requiring special diets and laxatives. Diarrhea is not uncommon either, including chronic diarrhea related to inflammatory bowel disease. Any of these conditions are uncomfortable for the cat and may cause the cat to be afraid of the litter box or unable to get to the litter box in time to avoid an accident.

Many cats with inflammatory bowel disease only have occasional symptoms for no obvious reason. Appetite changes, lethargy, vomiting, or increased hairball production can be signs of intestinal discomfort., If your cat is older or has an injury, it may not be able to get into the litter box as comfortably as it once could. Does your cat limp, need help jumping up to a chair or bed, have episodes of shaking legs, or seem painful around its spine or tail? If so, take the cat to the vet immediately! You may be able to make the cat more comfortable by getting a litter box with lower sides, or with a “doorway” cut into the side. You may need to consider a larger box so that the cat can turn around easily once inside.

An overweight cat may not fit comfortably in the box any longer. Get a larger box and place the cat on a diet. Consult with your veterinarian about safe weight loss strategies for your cat.

, Urinating outside of the litter box often results from a feline medical issue, including urinary tract infections, diabetes mellitus, chronic renal disease, hyperthyroidism, bladder inflammation with or without urinary crystals, and intestinal issues (IBD). When in doubt, have a veterinarian conduct a medical checkup.

Observe your cat so you are prepared to answer your veterinarian’s questions. Possible questions include: Does the cat urinate right by the litter box or further away? How large is the spot of urine? Does the cat ever try to urinate in the litter box? Does the cat vocalize when urinating? Is there an increase in water consumption? Can you tell if the urine is almost clear, normal color, or dark? How frequently is the cat urinating?
Even if there is no medical cause, your vet could prescribe anti-anxiety drugs to prevent spraying. This is not a guaranteed or risk-free solution, so talk to your vet about the pros and cons.

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